Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to an extraordinary officer and gentleman--my dear friend BG Patrick Finnegan.
Pat Finnegan and I go back a long way. We were classmates from the class of 1971 at West Point. We went to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University together. We went to the infantry officer basic course together, the airborne school. In fact, I was Lieutenant Finnegan's platoon leader.
Pat went on to serve first as an infantry officer and then as a military intelligence officer. He was so talented and so obviously marked for big things that he was selected by the Army to attend the University of Virginia Law School. There he demonstrated his great legal mind and talent by his remarkable success in the classroom. He was a member of the Law Review, and then went into the Judge Advocate General Corps. He served with distinction, never serving a Washington billet, but always with the troops in the field, overseas in Germany, but particularly with the Special Operations Command, those warriors who are the tip of the spear for our military forces.
Pat returned to West Point as a full colonel to become the head of the Department of Law. There he nurtured a generation of cadets. His success was such that he was the most obvious and the best choice to become the dean of the Military Academy, and he assumed those duties. For the last several years he has led the academic department at West Point with distinction.
West Point has been selected by Forbes magazine as the best undergraduate institution in the country. It has been recognized in terms of the scholarships awarded to its students and in terms of the excellence of its academic programs.
Pat contributed a lot more than just academic expertise. He and his wife Joan and their children and their grandchildren were a large part of the fabric of the West Point experience. They were there cheering on the cadets at their athletic events. They were there in the good times and the bad times of cadets. They were a source of inspiration and encouragement for class after class at West Point. Pat and Joan have left an indelible mark on the academy. They have done it with great learning and great character, and they have inspired all of us with their dedication to the Army, to the country, and a dedication to each other and to their children.
It is with a great deal of pride that I salute BG Patrick Finnegan on his retirement from the U.S. Army and salute him also upon his appointment as president of Longwood University. Longwood will never regret their choice of a distinguished soldier and a great gentleman as their new president.